by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Now that former President Donald Trump has announced his third presidential campaign, he could be the only formally declared candidate for months.
President Joe Biden. who turns 80 on Sunday, has said he will make a decision on reeelction early next year in consultation with his family.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), seen as Trump’s main rival for the GOP nomination, won’t be sworn in for his second term until next year. He hasn’t confirmed his plans but is unlikely to announce for a new job before then.
Trump’s decision to get into the race before the end of 2022, despite serving a term as president, winning the nomination the last two cycles, and still leading in most polls, was partly intended to freeze the field.
Other Republicans may decide to forgo the race if they know they will be on the receiving end of Trump’s attacks. The former president has a long track record of throwing sharp elbows even at close allies who cross him politically, dinging DeSantis for disloyalty for reportedly weighing a White House bid after receiving Trump’s endorsement in 2018.
But after the midterm elections, in which several Trump-endorsed candidates underperformed and Republicans failed to make gains in the 50-50 Senate as DeSantis won by a landslide, the GOP presidential field is unlikely to remain stuck at one forever.
Republican operatives also told the Washington Examiner that Trump’s “anticlimactic” announcement speech, during which he was uncharacteristically reserved despite speaking for close to an hour, would deter prospective opponents.
“Trump’s material is old. His shtick is aging,” said Republican strategist John Feehery. “He doesn’t have the same buzz. He had become tiresome.”
There just aren’t many candidates who think they need to beat the Christmas rush to have a chance to win almost two years from now.